Here I go generalizing, but as I see it we humans fall pretty nicely into two groups. There are the thrill-seekers, those go-as-they-please vagabonds of earth, who like change, adventure, newness. Others are content with routine and find comfort in habit – making the bed, the walk to work, eating the same bowl of salad 6 nights running - because it’s delicious (the salad, life) so why change?
I’m one of those boring habitual people. Unsurprisingly, as I came here today to declare my love for brussels sprouts, I realized I had already done so last winter, as I probably do every year. The story goes that brussels sprouts usually appear first at Thanksgiving dinner, boiled on my Gran’s table. She without fail overcooks them, and they turn a distinctive shade of puce (but are delicious nonetheless). They keep appearing, stowaways in my grocery basket, until mid-December or so when their season ends. Boiling is just fine, and I’ve made Molly’s cream-braised variety to a collective sigh of appreciation, but most of the time, habitually, I roast. You’ll find me tucked into the couch, bowl in my lap, munching happily.
And that’s the thing.
One of my most-loved poets, Mary Oliver, wrote my most-loved poem, The Summer Day. I find myself reciting her lines over in my head lately, again and again. I’ve always liked the poem, how it vaults the everyday to the extraordinary, how she writes of being idle and blessed and without answers. And at the end, how she asks me what I will do, with my wild and precious life.
It’s nice to romanticize my faults and poke gentle fun, couch shortcomings in pretty words, but the truth is: sometimes I worry. I worry that my aversion to change, my love of stability and this simple, contended life holds me back from everything else. In introspective times, I wonder if years of gentle contentedness lead to great unhappiness. I see people glaze-eyed and anywhere-but-here in the streets, and I fear the day that I don’t greet the squirrels and breath sweet air deep and feel joy in the constant, my ordinary life.
Then I think that I might jump. Higher, toward something else. And what then?